March Madness – Reading Edition!
March is National Reading Month, so the Bridges Technical Assistance Center’s Helpdesk is celebrating March Madness – Reading Edition! This month, we will be sharing reading-related resources all month long. Additionally, on March 19, from 8-9 pm, we will host a Student Meeting featuring a new reading tool: Bookshare Reader. We look forward to enjoying March Madness with you!
- March 7: Free and Low-cost Braille Books
- March 14: Bookshare’s New App: Bookshare Reader
- March 21: Voice Dream Reader
- March 28: Accessible College Textbook Program
In this first installment of our “March Madness – Reading Edition!” series, we share resources for – and reasons to obtain – free and low-cost braille books.
Why Braille Books?
This post focuses on braille books (rather than books with enlarged print) because braille books can be difficult to find. Unlike print, braille is a tactile medium, and even refreshable braille has the limitation of only displaying one line at a time. Accessing and using hard copy braille books helps an individual develop efficient braille-reading hand movements, provides spatial information (multiple lines at one time without needing to scroll up or down), and is available even when electronics break down.
Ways to Use Hard-copy Braille Books
There are multiple ways to use these hard-copy braille books – even if you don’t yet read braille!
Current braille readers can:
Individuals learning (or interested in learning) braille:
While nothing replaces quality instruction (in braille or print), you might consider using braille books to help you learn to read braille. Just like with print, reading braille takes PRACTICE! These braille resources can provide you with some self-teaching opportunities. For this purpose, consider getting some books that you enjoy and know by heart). When you read the braille, you will already know what the word is, so you will actually be teaching your fingers what the word feels like! This works best for books in UEB (Unified English Braille) and note that punctuation (period, question mark, etc.) is attached to the word they follow – just like in print.
Please reach out to us at the Bridges Helpdesk for any assistance we can provide.
Free Braille Books to Keep
Seedlings’ Book Angel Program for Children with Vision Loss
Through this program, blind/low vision U.S. children ages birth through 21 may order up to FIVE (5) free braille books per year. Please note that this is limited to books on one or two volumes.
Temple Beth El Braille Book Bindery
Individuals may choose from many Braille books in either contracted or uncontracted Braille. The volunteers of Temple Beth El Sisterhood provide these books at no cost, but they welcome donations of Braille paper, Braille binding supplies, and money to support this mission.
Free Braille Books Program from the American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults (AAF)
Hard copy braille books. 2023 books include:
Braille Institute’s Special Collection
Blind/low vision children in the U.S. and Canada may order up to 2 Dots for Tots® kits two times per year (targeted at ages 2-5, but open to all—might be great books to read to younger family members, neighbors, etc.).
Free Braille Books on Loan
Maryland State Library for the Blind and Print Disabled (LBPD) branch of the National Library Service (NLS)
Choose from thousands of braille book titles and over 30 magazines in Braille and electronic Braille formats. Books & magazines can be mailed or downloaded for FREE.
If you are not yet registered as a Library patron, you can complete an English LBPD application or a Spanish LBPD application and email it to the LBPD at email@example.com.
If you are not certain whether you are registered as a patron of the Library, please contact the Library at 410-230-2424 or 800-964-9209.
Low-cost Braille Books (to Keep)
BRL—Beulah Reimer Legacy
Very reasonably priced, high-quality Braille-print picture books. Great for learning braille as a teen with books you grew up loving and for braille readers taking care of younger children.
Seedlings Braille Books (for purchase)
Seedlings has a wide variety of braille books for purchase (after you get your three free Angel books—see above). Here are the categories of Seedlings books, followed y the number of titles in each category:
National Braille Press (NBP)
NBP has a variety of titles including some not available anywhere else, including technology guides for blind/low vision individuals, cookbooks, recreational reading, books in Spanish and English, and more.
American Printing House for the Blind (APH)
While APH books are not necessarily low in price, schools have funds that can only be spent at APH. In addition to textbooks and early learning books, APH offers books with tactile graphics that can be helpful in science and other classes.
The Braille Bookstore
The Braille Bookstore offers many titles in hard copy braille for all ages, including adults.
Read How You Want
Read How You Want is a commercial publisher of accessible books, and available formats include Braille and DAISY digital books. While this publisher is located in Australia, prices are in U.S. dollars, and the variety of titles includes many that are not common in the U.S.
Braille Library & Transcribing Services, Inc.
This group offers braille in three ways:
Louis Database of Accessible Materials
“The American Printing House for the Blind (APH) maintains and promotes the Louis Database of Accessible Materials, named in honor of Louis Braille. Louis contains information on accessible materials produced by over 75 organizations throughout the United States and Canada. These materials include educational materials in braille, large print, audio, and electronic file format.
Our aim is to provide maximum visibility to accessible educational materials and to meet that goal, the Louis search also includes information from these national repositories.”
Bookshare – Embossing Bookshare Books
While Bookshare does not provide hard copy books, it does provide the option to download books in BRF (braille-ready file) format. Note: you must be a member of Bookshare to download these files. Then, you may either emboss the books yourself or find another entity (teacher, agency, individual) to perform the embossing.
Follow the Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page for more transition tips, and please contact the Bridges Technical Assistance Center’s Free Helpdesk for Maryland Blind/Low Vision Transition Students, Families, and Educators anytime using:
- Our Accessible web form
- Email: Helpdesk@IMAGEmd.org
- Text or Leave a Voice mail message: (410) 357-1546
- Bridges Helpdesk Facebook page or Facebook Messenger
This unique project is being coordinated through The IMAGE Center of Maryland, a center for independent living in Towson, and it is funded by a grant from the Maryland Department of Education Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services.